Sympathy For The Rebel

 

old habits die hardOld Habits Die Hard - Junkyard (Acetate Records)

It ain't no easy gig being a rock 'n' roll singer.

I'm re-reading that old hardback Steven Tyler book I bought second hand at a thrift store for two dollars, 10 years ago, for entertainment purposes right now. When I'm not busy doing stuff, because I'm at that time of year where every stray dime must go towards providing the impossible Santa haul for kids brought up in a capitalist culture of insane competition and peer pressure and mandatory conforming to the never ending juggernaut of acquisition and updating and unboxing and having the latest special edition gizmo and gadget and sports celebrity running shoe.

A baker's dozen of memorable powerpop

dromana ramaDromana-Rama - Little Murders (Off the Hip)

Forty years ain’t a bad innings for a band. By any measure. Sure, Little Murders spent patches of that time on hiatus - and the band is essentially a “brand” for leader Rob Griffiths, its only constant member - but a few of the current personnel are long-termers, and its sound has remained intact throughout.

Name a band that hasn’t changed membership over a period of decades? If you’re a fan, the best you can hope for is that a collective has remained true to its spirit, usually defined over the course of a brief purple patch of two or three records, and doesn't serve up a dud. Little Murders has stayed the course and for considerably more than a handful of albums.

Guerillas don't monkey about with labels

equation of lifeEquation of Life - Urban Guerrillas (MGM)

Ever been in a position where you didn't know what to expect when a disc landed in the CD player? That’s often a good thing. My preconceptions of Sydney’s Urban Guerrillas as inner-city, squat-dwelling, agitprop punk preachers are somewhat passe, and almost abandoned after a couple of spins.

The UG sound is more folk-pop than punk rock these days, and the concerns of the seven tracks on the “Equation of Life” EP are mostly universal. Not that the band was ever stuck in one sound. There’s a splash of Celtic pipes in “Divine Image” (a William Blake poem set to music) and “What I Wish For” sets out a societal manifesto with a stab of mandolin in its mix.There’s also enough chugging guitar and urban angst in “Claustrophobia” to light up a street-full of terrace houses in Erskineville.

What they did on their holidays

la banda en espanaLa Banda en Espana - Leadfinger (self released)

What does an Australian band that’s revelling in Spain’s delights (not the least of which is the populace's love of Real Rock and Roll) do on a day off from a European tour? Go into a studio and slap down some tracks, of course.  

This six-track EP, committed to tape/hard drive in 2017, is the result of that and represents the first stirrings from the Leadfinger camp for more than a year, following band leader Stew Cunningham’s successful fight against cancer.. Fuck, it’s great to have him - and them - back.

“La Banda en Espana” sounds like the band was having a ball. It's not meant to be too serious. It's not going to make them rich. 

This Victimisation is smashingly essential

horror smash ep“Horror Smash EP” - The Victims (In The Red)

“Horror Smash” is four old songs re-recorded in two sessions over 2017 and ’18 by a tweaked version of The Victims. They were Perth’s (almost) first punk band and a launching pad, of sorts, for Dave Faulkner (nee Flick) of the Hoodoo Gurus and James Baker of the Scientists, Beasts of Bourbon et al. Hard-Ons bassist Ray Ahn is the new third wheel and this single - on blood-spattered clear vinyl - has come out on revered US label In The Red.

The first thing to say is that it sounds like The Victims. No airs and graces. No frills. Downstrokes and rawness. No solos. No backing vocals. Black humour lyrics. Strap yourself in and hope you make it to the end. At which point you’ll get up and flip the thing over. 

It's a fact that you should dig The Fiction

ramona the fictionRamona - The Fiction (Off The Hip)

Simple songs simply done is a time-honoured formula often born out of necessity rather than choice. So it was in the beginning for The Fiction, a Melbourne punk band that sprang up 40 years ago, burned briefly and fell apart before spawning International Exiles and Little Murders. 

Only around for a year, The Fiction was fuelled by the nascent songwriting talents of frontman and expat Englishman, Rob Griffiths, and guitarist Rob Wellington.

Their influences were what was coming out of the UK punk scene in the ‘70s, as much as Melbourne visitors Radio Birdman and the Saints. The important point-of-difference between the UK and Australia back then was that the local standard of living made it hard to get too angry at anything much, relatively speaking. 

All the girls in town

baby 8 penny ikingerBoutique label Fantastic Mess Records are indulging their romanticism with vinyl singles once again with the release of a split double A side 7” featuring Melbournes staples Penny Ikinger and Baby 8. 

The single will be launched at Th Old Bar at Fitzoy in Melbourne from 6pm on Sunday, December 8. The first 30 punters receive a free copy of the single. Support will be riot girl goths Plaster of Paris..

Sonic chanteuse, guitar ace and primal mistress of pop, Penny Ikinger, covers her favourite Oz rock song of all time, the Divynls classic “Boys in Town”, which she christened with a live outing at the rcent “Boys in Town‘- A Celebration for Chrissy” event to mark the occasion of what would have been the late Chrissy Amphlett’s 60th birthday. 

Proceeds from this event were donated to the Olivia Newtown-John Cancer, Wellness and Research Centre.

Baby 8 is a hard hitting power-pop five-piece band creating quite a rumble. A recent support to Gang of Four at The Croxton Hotel, Melbourne, left their audience wanting more. They play with strength, passion and attitude with some seriously powerful riffs and tunes reminiscent of the 90’s riot grrrl era.

Baby 8 features Kat Karamitros on vocals, Katie Dixon (Powerline Sneakers) on guitar and vocals, Jacqui Brown on guitar, Maureen Gearon on bass and vocals and Matty Whittle (ex GOD) on drums. 

 

Dark charms on display from Sydney veterans

yesterday repeatingYesterday Repeating - The Smart Folk (self released)

There’s a treasure trove of slightly backward-looking, beat and mod-based pop by veterans coming out of the UK on a coterie of labels like State Records and Damaged Goods right now. Aussie band The Smart Folk would be right at home on either of them. 

It doesn't have the explosive pop brashness of The Embrooks or the raw swagger of Graham Day or CTMF, but “Yesterday Repeating” displays its own slightly darker charm.

Born out of a mod revival duo in Sydney six years ago, these old codgers have become a staple on their hometown’s small but tenacious live scene. “Yesterday Repeating” is their debut full-length album and it’s reflective of the quartet’s stylistic starting point without being limited by it.

Mick Medew walks through "Open Season"

mick and brian jeff ramThe I-94 Bar's Top Tens are about to roll-out and you'd be surprised if both this year's releases on I-94 Bar Records didn't make the grade for The Barman's picks.

A couple of months ago, we posted a track-by-track by Chris Masuak of "Address to the Nation" by Chris Masuak and the Viveiro Wave Riders. Now it's Mick Medew's turn to walk you through "Open Season", the long-player from Mick Medew and the Mesmerisers. 

It's a killer album of pop, power and melody and if you don't believe us, check out the reviews here

The words below belong to Mick Medew, the photos are by Jeff Ram.

* * * * * 

“Imaginary Friend''
This song was principally written by our guitar player, Brian Mann. He wrote the lyrics to the first verse and I found it easy to run with his theme. 

I grew up in inner city Brisbane in the 1960's and ‘70s where there was plenty of exploring to be done and no security guards in sight.  I have one Sister (11 years older than me ) so i was effectively an only child for a lot of the time. At least it felt like that.

I needed to apply my imagination; necessity being the mother of invention.

 

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